BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's government said on Tuesday it disagrees with claims that a European Union-Mercosur trade deal would increase destruction in the Amazon rainforest and criticized French concerns about an agreement as "protectionist."
In a joint note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Brazil took issue with a report on deforestation used by the French government last week to oppose the current version of the EU-Mercosur trade deal.
The report, which Brazil said was commissioned by the French government, "reveals the real protectionist concerns of those who commissioned it when dealing with the agricultural concessions made by the EU to Mercosur," Brazil's note said.
Brazil's statement came after Augusto Heleno, a national security adviser to President Jair Bolsonaro, told local radio station Bandeirantes the country could retaliate with its own trade blocks against countries that boycotted Brazilian goods on environmental grounds.
A trade deal would instead, according to the Brazilian statement, reinforce multilateral commitments and best practices on the environment.
The EU has been holding talks with the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, the world’s fourth-largest trade bloc. One worry has been the impact of the future deal on forests and the climate.
Bolsonaro has been under international scrutiny for his environmental policies. Earlier on Tuesday, he defended his environmental record at the United Nations.
(Reporting by Ricardo Brito in Brasilia; writing by Sabrina Valle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)